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Full text of "Verdict On India"

IN SEAECE  OF AN ARTIST                             115
VI
"For heaven's sake stop grousing and find something pleasant
to say! *
So the reader might exclaim, and I could not agree with him
more fervently.
But how ? What ? Where ? It is not as easy as you might
imagine.
Listen to an Indian opinion for a change. In The Cultural
Heritage of India the distinguished scholar. Dr. Coornarswamy,
observes :
'It may be said without fear of contradiction that our present poverty,
quantitative and qualitative, in works of art, in competent artists, and
effective connoisseurship is unique in the history of the world.'1
It would be difficult to make a much more sweeping charge
than that I And we could fill these pages with fragments equally
damning, from the pens of Indians themselves.
However, we will push on. The next port of call was Mysore.
There was nothing to be found there except an art school where
the Curator had been for so many years at Ajanta that the very
curves of his body suggested that he was part of a fresco himself.
The work of his students was correspondingly derivative.
After passing through a number of smaller towns, and finding
nothing, always nothing, we eventually arrive at Madras, the
third largest citv in India, immensely rich, a great seaport,
vibrating with life.
The usual questions were made, the usual answers given.
Nobody, Indian or British, had ever heard of any artists m
Madras. (4Nobody9 does not mean merely the bell-boy and the
taxi-driver, but the most distinguished citizens.) They did not
think that there was such a thing as an art gallery. ..though,
they added brightly, there was quite a good photographer not
far from the Coimeruara Hotel.
In spite of these assurances^ I persevered. It became a sort of
obsession. This state of affairs seemed altogether too grotesque,
There must be something.. .somewhere.
There was.
1 The Cultural Heritage of India* Cooraarswamy.    Vol. hi, p. 510.-